Yield and plant growth response of peanut to midseason forage harvest
Harvesting of peanut (Arachis hypogaea L.) foliage during the growing season may increase farm revenue through the sale of peanut hay; however, it is unknown how the peanut plant will respond to forage removal with respect to plant characteristics, pod yield, quality, and revenue. This experiment was a randomized complete block design where peanut foliage was harvested or sprayed with a plant growth regulator prohexadione calcium (PHDC; Ca salt of 3, 5-dioxo-4-propionylcyclohexanecarboxylic acid). There were nine treatments replicated five times. Peanut ‘Georgia Green’ was planted in twin rows during 2005 and 2006 on Tifton loamy sand. Peanut foliage was harvested at 20-cm height at 60, 90, and 120 days after planting (DAP). The PHDC was applied at recommended rates and timing. Leaf density was higher for peanut plants treated with PHDC compared with plants cut for forage. Leaf-to-stem ratios were higher with plants harvested early (60 DAP) compared with those harvested later (120 DAP). Total forage mass was lowest at 60 DAP and increased with single or multiple harvests. Total forage removed with one single midseason harvest was not different from an associated multiple harvest. Peanut pod yield decreased about 12% for each harvest. Peanut grade (total sound mature kernels, TSMK) decreased as the number of harvests increased, conversely, other kernels (OK) increased as the number of harvests increased. Pod and forage revenue was highest for the nonharvest and single-harvest treatments and decreased with the multiple harvests.